[Edu-sig] Stop the insanity -- no more case sensitivity discussion!

Guido van Rossum guido@python.org
Sun, 06 Feb 2000 08:58:11 -0500

This is the message I received; forwarded with permission.  To repeat,
I'm really sorry to see people withdraw from this great forum for this

Let's all behave like grown-ups and heed his warning without sending
him a reply -- clearly more arguments in his mailbox is the last thing
he needs.  If you disagree, do so in silence.  I've learned that
that's a great mental exercise and usually gets the job done!

Now, let's go back to our educational focus...

--Guido van Rossum (home page: http://www.python.org/~guido/)

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Date:    Sat, 05 Feb 2000 18:53:20 -0500
From:    Xenophanes <tgabriel@bellsouth.net>
To:      guido@python.org
Subject: Education forum

Hi Dr. van Rossum,

The other day I received an e-mail from you about the edu-sig forum for
the Python programming language. It described this new forum as one
where communication would generally be about how the Python community
could get a broader acceptance and penetration of Python into
educational areas, helping kids and adults to get into programming. Your
paper "Computer Programming For Everyone," was referred to, I believe.
The goal of this forum , it seemed to me was to advocate in the various
communities we all are a part of to get Python "out there."

I subscribed to the list and after a few days of moderate activity, the
forum took off like a rocket to Alpha Centauri. The only problem with it
was the direction it took off in. Instead of discussing ways to get
Python widely accepted and to use Python in programming and computer
classes to help kids to become better at critical thinking and
eventually providing an avenue toward self determination, the forum
degenerated into a group of programmers arguing whether there ought to
be case recognition in the syntax of the programs written in Python. It
seems the Unix people could not stand that Python is not case sensitive
and Unix is. (At least that is what it seems to have evolved to)

Dr van Rossum, this should not be a discovery environment where
developers try to change Python to reflect some idealistic fairy tale
land. It should be a time where the ideas of a Jeffrey Elkner or the
environmental activist from Appalachia, or the many others who struggle
with the impossibility of computer programming get heard. Instead, the
only forum with that kind of opportunity has been stolen by computer
language developers who are concerned about teaching their
five-year-olds to program!!

Yesterday at about five-thirty p.m., I received over 25 e-mails from
forum participants at one time when I logged on to the net. Not one was
concerned with getting Python out to the people who need it. Most were
concerned with whether or not Python knows the difference between This
and this. I am not amused. I am a fan of Python. I think Python is what
is going to be instrumental in saving democracy. If that sounds extreme,
maybe it is. But Python, the way you developed it is the only hope we
have as a people to fight the corporate interests who want to dumb the
society down to the point where we will be willing and happy to work for
the same wages that the Bangladeshis do. My understanding when I was
first exposed to Python was that it first and foremost was a tool to
help kids and other people to enhance their critical thinking skills by
being able to relatively easily program solutions for themselves and
others that corporate America did not spoon feed them.

Apparently, the Python community is too tied up in knots over case
sensitivity to understand that case sensitivity is not an issue. "The
language is not case sensitive, get over it." That should be your
message to these Philistines.

I was sorry to have to unsubscribe from the edu-sig group. I just could
not abide by the idiotic arguing over nothing that was going on. I do
not have time in my day to read such drivel. Please let me know when and
if the group returns to the land of the living and starts discussing how
to use Python as it was intended instead of what Python is.


Terry Gabriel

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